Staff Sgt. Ricardo Barraza, 24, was a squad leader assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash. He died of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations in western Iraq on March 18, 2006.
After graduating from Shafter High School in Shafter, Calif., Barraza volunteered for military service and entered the Army Aug. 5, 1999. He completed One Station Unit Training, Airborne School and Ranger Indoctrination Program at Fort Benning, Ga.
Assigned to 2nd Ranger Bn. in March 2000, Barraza served in every position of a Ranger rifle squad.
Barraza was a six-time veteran of the Global War on Terrorism, deploying three times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, and three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal with a two-knot rope, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Senior Parachutist Badge, the Korean Parachutist Wings, the Jordanian Parachutist Wings and the Ranger Tab. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for valor, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.
Barraza is survived by his parents, Francisco and Nina Barraza, and two sisters, Amanda and Rachel, of Shafter, Calif., and another sister, Jamie Barraza, and a brother, Frankie Barraza, of Sunnyside, Wash. His fiancé, Meghan K. Harrington, and her daughter, Kayla, of Lacey, Wash., also survive him.
As a Ranger, Barraza distinguished himself as a member to the Army’s premier light infantry unit, traveled to all corners of the world in support of Global War on Terrorism and fought valiantly to “uphold the prestige, honor and high ‘esprit de corps’” of the Ranger Regiment.